Parenting Across Cultures 2017 pilot project fulfilling growing need
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Whistler is a changing community. In the past, immigrants were attracted by the mountains, the lifestyle or business opportunities.
In recent years, the multi-cultural community has evolved to include people who choose Whistler as an opportunity for employment – for a chance to immigrate to Canada.
In 2016, 32% of Whistler’s permanent population were immigrants, not including those who have gained citizen status. Concurrently, the number of immigrants deciding to start a family in Whistler is rising with the number of ELL (English Language Learner) students in our local school system reported by School District #48 to have risen to 11.3% in 2016/17.
Seeing a need, the Whistler Multicultural Network (WMN) developed the Parenting Across Cultures program to support new immigrant mothers.
Based on a focus group they conducted with new immigrant mothers in Whistler, WMN’s new program would go on to cover topics such as self-care, effective communication and conflict resolution, culture shock and adapting to parenting, language development, parenting orientation and styles, and family-centred services.
Ten mothers (from Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and the Czech Republic) participated in the first session. Feedback showed that participants valued being able to share their feelings, learning about other parenting styles and meeting other mothers who are in a similar situation (despite coming from a different culture or language).
Some challenges they face include:
- communicating in an additional language
- understanding common parenting phrases and terms, including small talk
- perceived cultural barriers in different parenting practices
- presumption of cultural understanding in a group setting
One participant reported enjoying PAC as when she went to other parent-tot programs, she sometimes felt she didn’t connect with the other parents there. She described it as not being able to open her mouth, despite wanting to talk to others as well as having adequate language skills to interact.
“Even just 2 weeks, I was happy to join this programs. I can share feelings with other multicultural moms who are undergoing similar situation. In spite of language barrier, I felt comfortable with friendly staffs.”
Enjoy this untitled poem created by the October 2017 PAC focus group which paints a heartfelt picture of their struggles, as well as their joys.
School is a challenge
Because there is no homework
Canada pushes the parents, not the kids
Education is fun and free
Still Canada brings a better future
Traditions are part of our culture
Being passed on and added to
Celebrated and shared in our communities
Canada gives the children opportunity and freedom
It is for them, that we choose life here.
Reach out to the Whistler Mulitcultural Centre and ask when the next Parenting Across Cultures program starts.
Would you like to meet moms from another culture or country?
Click this link to connect with them.
The Whistler Multicultural Network and Whistler Community Services received funding for this ongoing program through the Community Grants Program.